John and Brenda Bradley
How did you come to live at Sibbersfield?
We had been looking at rural properties for most of 1985, mainly in the Vale of Clwyd (Ruthin and Denbigh areas) as at that time we were employed by Clwyd County Council based in Mold. After many disappointing viewings, John spotted an advert for the sale of Sibbersfield Lodge in the Chester Chronicle. We viewed it in October 1985, put in an offer (£31,000) which was accepted.
What are your main memories from living here?
Within a short time of living here it became clear that it was a unique location. All residents have their privacy but we soon realised that we could call on neighbours of we needed help. In the early days our neighbours had to contend with the sight of a property in various states of construction and repair, and to their credit never once complained, at least not to us.During Bob and Shirley’s time at the Hall, springtime meant lambing, summertime meant stacking hay in the stables and we were on hand to help. One memorable occasion was when John helped to deliver a lamb during a heavy snowfall rather than watch the England rugby union’s woeful performance in the Five Nations. We also “ran” the sheep down to Dennis King’s Farm (now occupied by the Listers) for dipping, holding up all the traffic.John and I are godparents to Stephanie and James Bayliss whose parents lived at Stable Cottage. Both children were born in Chester and I lived here for the very early part of their lives before the family moved to Hong Kong. The christenings were held in Farndon Church followed by celebrations with families and friends at Stable Cottage.
What significant occasions/milestones happened while you were living here?
There have been many wonderful celebrations during our time here. Emily Hancock (Shirley Carter’s daughter) celebrated her 21st birthday party at the Hall and her wedding to Tom Gilruth was held in a marquee at the Hall. A fantastic millennium party took place at the Hall and this incorporated the celebration of Matt Hancock and Jo Johnson’s 21st birthdays.A superb 50th birthday party was held at the Hall for David Williams and in 2007 Gareth Parkes married Kate Nicholson at Sibbersfield House. John and I were thrilled to be invitedto all these great occasions. Oh, in December 1995 John and I got married at the Grosvenor Hotel, Chester, so I suppose that is the most memorable occasion for us.
What condition was the property in when you purchased it?
The Lodge was in a ruinous state when we bought it – it had been unoccupied for some time. The previous occupant, Percy Challinor, had been a gardener for the Bushby family. He moved from Sibbersfield when he got married and went to live in sheltered accommodation in Christleton (Percy was in his 80s when he got married).The state of the Lodge was such that it was uninhabitable and before we could move in, a damp-proof course needed to be installed, new floors were put in and the place rewired. Alterations were made to the kitchen and the dining room and central heating installed and we finally moved in in June 1986. However the place was still pretty grim. We had numerous bonfires to clear both the rubbish from the outbuilding and huge amounts of garden rubbish. Many trips were also made to the municipal tip.
What changes did you make to the property?
Over the years, the Lodge was extended to provide an en-suite bedroom, a study, a conservatory, utility room and a double garage. The original outbuildings were demolished to enable these improvements to take place. Work on recreating and improving the garden has been and still is a labour of love. All the renovation and enlarging of the property was carried out by John with the exception of the damp-proofing and some plastering. Improvements to the exterior of the property included the felling of 31 trees of various sizes and with the exception of about half a dozen which were just too big a challenge, John removed all, including the removal of the tree stumps. A tree surgeon dealt with the very large trees and although a digger was used to remove some of the stumps, most were dug out manually. The garden will always evolve and hopefully improve each year.
Potted history of personal information (occupation, hobbies and interests etc.)
John is a Chartered Civil Engineer who worked in the Highways Dept of various local councils. He took early retirement in 1996 when reorganisation took place and Clwyd County Council ceased to exist. John’s hobbies are DIY and making and flying model airplanes. In his younger days he played rugby union and squash.I worked in the Treasurer’s Department of Clwyd County Council for 22 years and also chose to take early retirement on the reorganisation of local government. After my retirement I studied with the Open University and was awarded a BA degree in 2003. My attention then turned to the garden which takes up a great deal of my time, especially after it was extended and a greenhouse added.Even after 22 years we still enjoy living here and have much more work to bring the garden up to scratch but now we have two grandchildren, they are always our priority.